Holiday Mental Health Tips
Commercial truck drivers are often away from friends and family for extended periods of time. Being away can be difficult, especially during the holidays. While commercials on TV and the radio lead us to believe that the only way to be happy is to spend time with family and loved ones, the truth is that it’s all about attitude. Here are some tips that might help you to stay positive during the holidays.
Be Proactive and Stay Connected
Modern technology provides many ways to keep in touch with family and friends. These tools are especially useful when you are away from home during the holidays. While it may seem difficult, attempt to reach other to others. Start a conversation with another CMV driver at a stop. Spend down time sending and receiving e-mail and text messages. Take time to reach out through Facebook or Instagram. Use programs like Google Hangouts, Skype, or FaceTime to connect face-to-face. Take advantage of these tools to stay connected and to maintain relationships across the miles.
Reflect on Your Goals
Take this time alone to set realistic goals for the New Year. Create an action plan that lays out how you’ll meet these goals. People often abandon their resolutions because they aren’t doable or because they are too ambitious. Developing an action plan will help to ensure that your goals are achievable. Remember, effective goals do not need to be complex or life altering. Simple goals, like making time to walk for 10 minutes a day, can help you to pass the days until you are able to return home.
Take Care of Your Body
Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep are keys to physical and mental health. Use this time to establish a routine that incorporates simple diet and exercise goals throughout the day. For example, if your goal is to drink more water, get in the practice of tracking how much you drink each day. If your goal is to move more, invest in an inexpensive pedometer or phone application to track your steps. Having trouble falling asleep, try limiting your use of electronic devices prior to rest period. Once you find the routines that work for you, vow to stick with them into the new year.
Take advantage of your time alone to do things that you like to do. Have a layover? Take time to check out a new movie or a recent rental, read a book, or binge watch a TV series online. Whatever your choice, make it a special treat.
Know When to Log Off
Too much time on social media may not be healthy. While social media sites are great tools for catching up with friends, you may find that too much time on a site causes you to experience feelings of jealousy, tension, isolation, and even depression. For example:
- You may berate yourself for not living up to the achievements of your friends.
- You look at your life and look at theirs and conclude that you’re a complete failure.
- As you spend time looking over all the holiday pictures and happy updates posted by your friends, you start to feel worse and worse about yourself.
Just like they do in person, people often put their best face forward on social media sites. Even the happiest of person has a bad day. And those posts that seem too good to be true, they may not be true. If there’s something or someone on Facebook (or any other social media site) that’ i causing you stress, take steps to prevent that from happening. Unfriend or unlike people or pages. You can also prevent people from inadvertently bothering you by commenting on a friend’s profile or post by blocking them.
Know When to Get Help
While it is normal to feel some pangs of loneliness or to feel sorry for yourself, know that not all feelings of depression are normal. If you find that you feel sad all of the time, that you have lost interest in important parts of your life, or that you fluctuate between extreme happiness and extreme sadness, you may be suffering from a mood disorder like depression. Know that you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.
Many don’t get the mental health services they need because they don’t know where to start. Start by talking to your primary care doctor or another health professional about your mental health problems. They can help you to connect with the right mental health services. If you don’t have a health professional who can help you, MentalHealth.gov has resources for you to use to find help. These resources include:
- Sources for Immediate Help
- Help for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
- Health Insurance and Mental Health Services
For your convenience, additional information about some of the key resources are included below.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)
- If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Site exit disclaimer. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1‑800-662-HELP (4357)
- Also known as, the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. Speak to a live person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Veterans Crisis Line Website – 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
- The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.